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Laurence O’Halloran MD
Timothy Egan MD
Heinz Scheidemandel MD
Antonio Cachay MD
Sarah Blank MD

Parathyroidectomy

Parathyroid surgery, or parathyroidectomy, is a procedure during which the surgeon removes part or all of your parathyroid glands.

When is it used?

There are four parathyroid glands located on the outside borders of the thyroid gland in the front of the neck.

The parathyroid glands help control the levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. When over-activity of the parathyroid glands develops, it is called hyperparathyroidism. This causes increased levels of calcium in the blood. You might experience muscle weakness, premature thinning of the bones, kidney stones, decreased alertness, frequent urination, and occasional joint discomfort.

What happens during the procedure?

We use a minimaly invasive procedure (MIP) for most parathyroidectomy cases.You will receive a general anesthetic. The surgeon will make a cosmetically placed incision in your neck measuring only about 2 cm in length and expose the parathyroid glands. The abnormal parathyroid gland (adenoma) is removed while leaving the surrounding structures intact. The resulting scar is barely visible and hidden in a neck crease line.

We also typically use a nerve monitoring system (NIMS) by Medtronic that allows us to help preserve and protect the nerve to your vocal cords.

What happens after the procedure?

You are usually in the hospital overnight and might go home the same day. You might have some swelling in your neck with local discomfort. Depending upon your calcium level, you might need to take additional calcium to avoid the symptoms of low calcium (occasional numbness and tingling in the extremities).

What are the benefits of this procedure?

You will no longer have high calcium levels in your blood. The abnormal parathyroid gland(s) have been removed.

By eliminating the high calcium level in your blood, you will be protected from the short- and long-term consequences of calcium elevation.

What are the risks associated with this procedure?

With parathyroid surgery, the risks are minimal but might include:

Blood loss

Infection

In addition, an occasional patient might have transient hoarseness, which is rarely permanent. Rarely, a patient might have recurrence of hyperparathyroidism as disease develops in a previously unaffected gland.

When should I call the doctor?

Call the doctor immediately if:

You develop a fever

You notice numbness or tingling in your face, lips, or hands.